Should I move to Australia? This is a question hundreds of thousands people around the world ask themselves each year.

Moving to Australia is a big step and choosing a city is not an easy task, because Australia has many amazing places to live.

They all have their own unique opportunities and the below will help you choose which city suits you and your family best.

The eight states have individual characteristics and climates. Do you want to live in tropical Queensland, cooler Canberra, laid-back Darwin or right in the hustle and bustle of Sydney?

Whether your moving for better pay, a warmer climate or adventure… Australia has it all!

How successful will your relocation be?

A lot depends on what job and income you will get, so a great place to start is looking is for jobs in Australia. That will help you narrow down your search of cities to what has the most opportunities and where you can earn the most.

So what city will suit you best?

Check out the below main cities in Australia and find out general information about the city, pros and cons, the population, climate, transport, economy, and top draw cards to the area:


Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia. With a Mediterranean climate and relaxed lifestyle. It’s ranked as the fifth-most livable city in the world for the second year running. The city offers an amazing quality of life, affordable housing and good economic opportunities.

Combine Adelaide’s superb climate with the lowest house prices of any Australian major state capital and you discover a proposition that is increasingly attractive to migrants seeking to improve their lifestyles. Adelaide is Australia’s most affordable big city. Adelaide needs the skills of around 5,000 new people from overseas each year to further develop its economy.

Population: 1.3 million people
Climate: sunny, warm, Mediterranean climate with low humidity
First Home Buyer Award: $15,000
Top draw cards: amazing climate, foodie heaven, premier wine state (producing 65% of the nation’s wine exports)
Public Transport: mainly cars, traffic easily flows with not a lot of congestion. Good public transport system (trains, buses and trams). In the centre of the city you can travel on the buses free of charge.

The Economy

Adelaide has the lowest average wage and the highest unemployment of any of Australia’s big five cities. It’s old school and suffering from the “Brain Drain”. Education and healthcare jobs are particularly attractive in Adelaide. The salaries are similar to those in other Australian cities, but Adelaide has much cheaper housing.

Industries play a big part in Adelaide’s economy and include automotive manufacturing, bio-science, engineering, ICT, medical research, tourism and the wine industry. There are the same opportunities in the public sector as elsewhere: hospitals, schools, universities and local and state governments are major employers.

Adelaide Pros:

  • Cheap houses
  • Warm, sunny with low humidity
  • Lovely beaches
  • Pleasant suburbs with little traffic
  • Great variety of places to eat out
  • Good public transport
  • Sprawling green parklands, hills and national parks around the city
  • The world famous Barossa valley lies just 60 km away
  • Known for it’s art festivals
  • Adelaide is Australia’s most affordable big city.

Adelaide Cons:

  • Sea water temperatures are cooler than other cities, except for Melbourne.
  • Some summer days are too hot.
  • Adelaide has higher unemployment and, on average, lower wages than other major cities in Australia.
  • Too many boy-racers on the roads. 


Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and Australia’s third largest city. It’s humid subtropical climate, has warmer weather than both Sydney and Melbourne. It has a dynamic economy and attracts a large number of migrants. With its friendly locals and laidback lifestyle, it’s no surprise this city is fast becoming Australia’s top spot to live (watch out, Melbourne).

It has a population of approx two million. It has a relaxed lifestyle in a beautiful, spacious city. The city sprawls over a large area with most people living in detached houses with gardens. The beautiful Brisbane River flows through city with a lot of homes having water-views.

The Sunshine State’s capital is a favourite with outdoorsy types and young families and there is much there for retirees.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, Brisbane’s biggest migrant group are from the UK (6% of the population). The next biggest group is New Zealanders (4%). Asian countries around 6%.

Brisbane is not situated on the cost, so no beaches. However, only an hour away you will find the stunning beaches of The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

Population: 2 million people
Climate: subtropical climate with warm or hot weather for most of the year.
First Home Buyer Award: $15,000
Top draw cards: blue skies, friendly people, great restaurants, markets, culture, lovely parks, close by theme parks.
Public Transport: great public transport (buses, trains and ferries).

The Economy

Brisbane’s rapidly expanding economy is one of the highest-performing in the country. Exports are on the rise with an unemployment rate of 6%. The top five employment industries are health care and social assistance, retail trade, professional services, construction, education and training.

Brisbane Pros:

  • Great weather with blue skies all year with 283 days of sunshine per year
  • Close to the country’s best beaches
  • Airport 20-min drive from CBD
  • Australia’s fastest-growing capital city for employment
  • Cheaper housing with properties generally cost less for more space

Brisbane Cons:

  • Summer humidity with an average of 26°
  • No daylight savings
  • Parking in CBD costs more than anywhere else in the country.


Canberra is Australia’s capital and therefore home to Parliament. It is also one of it’s smallest cities with a population just under 500,000. The weather does change markedly from season to season. Canberra has low humidity with dry heat in summer and cool winters, including frosts in winter.

“Criminally overlooked Canberra packs a big punch for such a small city.” That’s what Lonely Planet thinks. Named #3 best city to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 – ranking higher than any Australian city has ever been ranked before.

Canberra is divided by Lake Burley Griffin and is small and compact. It is reasonably flat so a lot of people get around by bicycles. There are a large number of government workers, but still half the population is employed in the private sector, so there are plenty of business opportunities.

The prestigious Australia National University, so there are a large number of students living here.

Population: 500,000 people
Climate: low humidity with dry heat in summer and cool winters
First Home Buyer Award: $7,000
Top draw cards: close to beach and snow, lots of walking tracks and great outdoor living, easy to get around.
Public Transport: buses

The Economy

Canberra has an enviable economic track record, performing consistently over the years. They have one of the strongest job markets and lowest unemployment rates in Australia and one of the strongest for new housing construction. As a result, Canberra has the highest average level of disposable income of any Australian capital city.

Canberra Pros:

  • big city with a small-town feel
  • plenty to do (museums, theatres, lush parks and booming dining scene)
  • lots to do
  • lots of nice people
  • beautiful distinct seasons
  • close to snow, national parks
  • great roads
  • everything is close
  • public schooling system is excellent

Canberra Cons:

  • cold in winter
  • cost of living is high
  • 2 hours to drive to the closest beach.


Darwin is known as the most laid-back city in the country. From the sparkling harbour and WWII history to the city’s Asian-influenced food and tropical outdoor lifestyle, Darwin is an outdoor adventures’ paradise.

It has wet and dry seasons and is hot all year round thanks to its near-tropical location. It has a small population of just over 116,000 and a relatively young one, with a median age of just 31. It’s a huge multicultural melting pot with eclectic festivals, markets and food. Its home to more than 100 nationalities, which is evident in its culture, food and lifestyle.

The Northern Territory capital has incredible natural beauty and remarkable wildlife. Because of its relative isolation it is expensive with a high cost of living and expensive real estate market. However, if you love multicultural living and relaxed lifestyle, Darwin could be for you.

Population: 144,000 people
Climate: hot all year round
First Home Buyer Award: up to $26,000
Top draw cards: relaxed lifestyle, adventure and multicultural
Public Transport: bus and ferry

The Economy

Census data shows Darwin fastest growing capital city in Australia. The territory is losing record amounts of people interstate but more people are moving in from overseas. Especially families. The unemployment rate in Darwin is very low – 3.24% compared to the Australian average of around 6%.

Darwin is a hub for industries such as oil, gas and defence. Key industries are retail/wholesale, manufacturing, government, defense, agriculture, transport and construction. With a lot of tradie, mining and military jobs.

The Northern Territory Government has a Skilled Occupation Priority List with more than 200 professions that have a shortage of workers and is actively seeking skilled migrants to relocate to this prosperous region.

Darwin’s Pros:

  • Multicultural
  • Quite and laidback
  • Lots of festivals
  • No traffic (wide roads and little congestion)
  • Lifestyle is fantastic
  • Casual and relaxed, people are friendly and chatty
  • Wonderful sports culture
  • If you like the outback, you will love Darwin. Great fishing spots, camping, 4wheel drive exploring etc
  • Many beaches
  • Good place to raise a family

Darwin’s Cons:

  • Only two seasons and very humid (wet and dry)
  • Housing is expensive
  • cost of living high.

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is a vibrant modern city built on 57km of beautiful coastline with all year sunshine. Its surrounded by stunning beaches, lush rainforests and a relaxed lifestyle. It is a playground of theme parks, watersports, top end shops, delicious food and exciting nightlife. Its home to Australia’s most famous theme parks including Dreamworld, Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet’n’Wild.

The Gold Coast is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia and attracts a lot of tourists with 12 million visitors a year. Its home to 500,000 people, making it the sixth largest city in Australia and is a diverse cosmopolitan place to live.

The cost of living is very affordable but real estate is rising strongly. The central hub is filled with high-rise apartments and hotels, many bars and clubs, busy shopping district with all the top brands and an amazing surf beach.

Population: 500,000 people
Climate: sunshine all year round
First Home Buyer Award: $15,000
Top draw cards: relaxed lifestyle, perfect surf conditions, sunny year-round, adventure playground
Public Transport: bus and car

The Economy

The Gold Coast is thriving on tourism and hospitality. Work in sales and retail, construction and building are popular options for job seekers. One of five people in the Gold Coast region work for themselves. This makes the Gold Coast fertile ground for new entrepreneurs and Small to Medium Enterprises.

The Gold Coast Pros:

  • Stunning weather
  • Beautiful beaches (57km of white sand)
  • Canals with beautiful homes
  • Lush rainforests
  • Affordable
  • Excellent surf conditions
  • The best theme parks

The Gold Coast Cons:

  • Schoolies Week (November-December)
  • Horrendous traffic
  • Drug related crime
  • Called tacky, trashy and tawdy
  • Bull sharks infest the canals.


Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city with four million residents. Its the sports, arts and cultural capital of Australia. Its numerous lane-ways of house bars, cafes and restaurants are covered in street art. Its renowned for its coffee culture!

It has four seasons in one day, very similar to New Zealand, but also benefits from a warm climate. It sits on the banks for the Yarra River, which is setup with picnic spots that get used regularly. Its mutlicultural and has large pockets of Greek, Italian, Chinese and Indian residents. Its home to the University of Melbourne and the Monash University. Its ranked as one of the world’s top cities for students.

It’s an expensive city to live in but not as expensive as Sydney (Australia’s largest city). It has a great tram system that makes it really easy to get around. There are first rate surf beaches just a small drive out of town.

Many people who move to Melbourne find that Melbourne’s lower house prices, lower crime rates, better transport and lower humidity make it more liveable than its rival Sydney.

Population: 4,000,000 people
Climate: four seasons in one day, warm in summer, cold in winter
First Home Buyer Award: $10,000
Top draw cards: world class shopping, sporting, cultural activities and festivals ensure you will never be bored.
Public Transport: tram, train, buses and cars

The Economy

Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city, with predictions it will soon be the largest. It needs the skills of 35,000 new people from overseas each year to work in its growing economy. A number of global businesses are setting up headquarters within the city’s bustling economy and there are jobs aplenty. It’s also Australia’s tech capital.

Melbourne’s Pros:

  • Sporting capital of the world
  • Always plenty to do
  • Amazing places a day trip away
  • Delicious food, plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from
  • Hip, cool and full of culture
  • Diverse population
  • Generally friendly people, safe suburbs, clean
  • Top beaches

Melbourne’s Cons:

  • Weather is unpredictable and cold in winter
  • Its expensive to live, rent and buy groceries
  • Traffic sucks
  • Real estate prices are booming
  • Water shortages happen.


Perth has more hours of sunshine than other Australian city.  The over 2 million residents have an amazing outdoor lifestyle – surf beaches, Swan River and Kings Park (400 hectare of protected park and bushland). From its beautiful weather to its endless daytrip options, Perth has plenty to offer its locals.

The mining boom brought a wealth of opportunity and investment to Perth. The boom has driven house prices up and the cost of living. However, outlying suburbs on decent-sized blocks are still affordable.

Perth was also named the 7th best in the world to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2015, and has made that list almost every year since 2004.

The 2 million population cover an area of over 5,000 square kilometers, so no giant concrete metropolis. A more suburban feel than urban.

Population: 2,140,000 people
Climate: sun, sun and more sun
First Home Buyer Award: $3,000 – $10,000
Top draw cards: Mediterranean climate and a relaxed lifestyle in a very beautiful, clean, spacious feeling city
Public Transport: free bus service, train and cars

The Economy

Perth is home to more than 30 international oil and gas companies thanks to the huge mining boom. This growing city is also one of only 19 cities to be a member of the illustrious World Energy Cities Partnership.

Innovative companies have been thriving, with industries ranging from 3D printing to sustainable energy production enjoying widespread success. There is a considerable amount of foreign investment, with agribusiness, manufacturing and retail among the strongest industries.

The majority of employment opportunities are in mining, hospitality, scientific and technical services.

Perth Pros:

  • A sunny, warm, Mediterranean climate
  • Surrounded by expansive white-sand beaches
  • Easy to get to the airport
  • Fun for all ages
  • Relaxed outdoors lifestyle
  • Beautiful clean city
  • Excellent public transport and not a lot of traffic
  • Warm seas and breathtaking sunsets over the Indian Ocean

Perth Cons:

  • One the most isolated cities in the world
  • Expensive (up there with Sydney)
  • Summer can get really hot
  • Swarms of flies in summer
  • Highest burglary rates of any major Australian city.


The New South Wales capital, Sydney is its most populous, with some 4.6 million people calling it home. Sydney is famous for its harbour, beaches and iconic landmarks (the Opera House, Bondi Beach, Darling Harbour) and is Australia’s oldest city.

Its Australia’s most expensive city and often features on the list of the most expensive cities in the world. Sydney has vast amounts of natural beauty, a huge cultural beating heart and epic entertainment scene. It hosts the famous Sydney Mardi-Gras (Australia’s biggest LGBT parade). Its been named the sixth best city for students with several world-class universities.

Its winters are reasonably mild and summers are pleasant, hot but not too hot. Its renowned for its beautiful parks, well maintained beaches and sporting excellence – not to mention ranking 6th on the EIU’s world’s most liveable cities list.

Population: 4,500,000 people
Climate: temperate, humid climate with abundant sunshine.
First Home Buyer Award: $10,000
Top draw cards: largest Australian city with top job opportunities
Public Transport: buses, trains and cars

The Economy

Sydney attracts more immigrants than any other Australian city. Large numbers of relocating Australians are also drawn by career opportunities in Sydney. Around 40,000 new people move to Sydney each year and around 15,000 new homes are built to accommodate them.

Current growth markets are information technology, education, health services, building trades and engineering. The Reserve Bank and Australian Stock Exchange are located in Sydney, along with other big business, so its a big draw card for professionals. In 2015 the unemployment rate was slightly less than the Australian average of about 6.1%.

Sydney Pros:

  • Weather is great
  • Wining, dining, shopping, and café-hopping
  • Beautiful beaches
  • Family friendly
  • Great education opportunities
  • Cosmopolitan, culturally diverse
  • Excellent health

Sydney Cons:

  • Expensive!
  • Notorious traffic. 


Cairns, considered the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is a city in tropical Far North Queensland. But it’s not just one of the most popular tourist cities; Cairns locals are head over heels for this sunny spot too. Maybe it’s the (mostly) great weather, maybe it’s the relaxed lifestyle, or maybe it’s the cheese and chocolate factory

This tropical, relaxed hub in Queensland is a popular tourist destination from April to November, thanks to its stunning amenities and exceptional location. It is close to a range of beaches, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest – a World Heritage site.

Cairns Esplanade, lined with bars and restaurants, has a swimming lagoon. Northwest of the city, Daintree National Park spans mountainous rainforest, gorges and beaches.

Cairns is a laid-back city best enjoyed outdoors.

Population: 150,041 people
Climate: tropical climate, with generally hot and humid summers and milder dryer winters
First Home Buyer Grant: $15,000
Top draw cards: the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Harbour or Cairns Marlin Marina, Lake Eacham and the Daintree National Forest.
Public Transport: public bus, bike, taxis, driving

The Economy

An analysis of the jobs held by the resident population in Cairns in 2016 shows the three most popular industry sectors were: Health Care and Social Assistance (10,446 people or 14.4%) Retail Trade (7,685 people or 10.6%) Accommodation and Food Services (7,268 people or 10.0%). Tourism is an important part of the economy.

Cairns Pros:

  • City meets rainforest
  • Great nearby white sand beaches
  • Beautiful daytrips and outdoor attractions
  • Cairns museum and art gallery

Cairns Cons:

  • The humidity is real
  • Traffic can be bad

Best Cairns Suburbs to Live In

Kewarra Beach – Northern Suburb

About 20km north of the CBD, Kewarra Beach takes you well out of the way of the “touristy” scene. This quiet, leafy suburb boasts a long, uncrowded beach, friendly locals, shops, childcare, and a primary school. Kewarra Beach is perfect for young families and anyone looking to stay out of the hustle and bustle to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.

Edge Hill – Inner Suburb

Home to the Cairns Botanic Gardens and just minutes from the CBD, Edge Hill is an inner city suburb with a twist. It puts you in the heart of the action and gives you easy access to parks and recreational activities. Edge Hill is one of the most sought-after inner city suburbs in Cairns, giving you the best of both worlds with its close proximity to the heart of the city and its leafy, laidback vibes.

Freshwater – Inner Suburb

Offering beautiful homes and easy connections to the city, airport, and northern beaches, it’s no surprise Freshwater is considered one of the premier suburbs of Cairns. It has a primary school and college as well as plenty of parks and waterholes. It also has a reputation of being quiet and safe, making it a great spot for young families.

You might be interested in…

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Still got unanswered questions?

Ask them below in the comment section and I will get back to you asap. You might also find the answers in the questions other visitors have asked.


  1. Tyler King

    July 25, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    Which suburbs in Brisbane is best to move too? We are a family of 3 with a 2 year old little boy.

    • JJ Smith

      July 28, 2022 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Tyler,
      Thanks for your comment.
      This was one of the hardest things for my husband and me as there are so many great suburbs in Brisbane. We ended up in Bulimba and loved it because we were within walking distance of the main street, which had everything you needed day to day (including entertainment and great restaurants) and a short ferry ride into the CBD.
      Check out this post about Riverside Park in Bulimba:
      However, in saying that, I am a firm believer in living close to where you work. Long commutes take up precious family time.
      This is a good post to have a read of too. It covers the 10 best family-friendly suburbs in Brisbane:
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  2. Jeruska

    April 19, 2022 at 2:29 am

    What a fantastic site, I’m so happy to have found it, thank you for all the information. We are a family of 7 and thinking about relocating to Australia due to the horrendous taxes and high cost of living here in NZ. We have a mixture of teens and preteens and I was wondering where the best schools are in Australia. I’d like to live somewhere warm with opportunities for our teens to work as well as good schools for our younger children. I’d love to hear your opinion on where would be best for us. Thank you!

    • JJ Smith

      May 5, 2022 at 4:27 am

      Hi Jeruska,
      Thank you for your comment. Sorry for the delay in replying, I was on a family holiday and are slowly catching up.
      NSW and Victoria dominate the school rankings of the top performing primary and secondary schools. NSW has 55 primary schools in the top 100, with 30 of the schools privately run. Victoria has 30 schools in the rankings, with 17 independent schools.
      Have a read through this list of top Australian secondary schools in 2021:
      However, Australia is full of great schools and work opportunities. I would also consider what lifestyle you are after, where is best for your work and if you kids are planning on going to university.
      For school and university you’ll pay the same fees as an Australian student, but you might not be able to get a student loan or allowance (university) unless you become a permanent resident or have lived in Australia for 10 years.
      Hope the above helped. Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  3. Lorna Burns

    March 23, 2022 at 2:24 am

    Very helpful information.
    Do you have similar breakdown for Cairns?
    And information re retirement in Australia from NZ.

  4. Janes, Trevor

    March 23, 2022 at 12:53 am

    At one stage I believe there was a basis on which NZers could move to Australia and we’re not taxable on their investments (income or capital gains)
    I don’t know if that still exists
    Would be grateful if you could provide me any info or references

    • JJ Smith

      March 24, 2022 at 2:22 am

      Hi Trevor,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I believe you are referring to New Zealanders being temporary residents for tax purposes.
      I’m not an accountant so can only advise from the information I find online, but here is an article that should help you:
      Please note, the above post is from 2016, so you should contact them if there was a particular situation you’re considering.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.


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